Teen recalled as `fun-loving kid'

Girl sets up online memorial to beating victim `so everyone else would remember him'

March 01, 2007|By John-John Williams IV and Tyrone Richardson | John-John Williams IV and Tyrone Richardson,Sun reporters

Stephanie Merson hadn't seen Robert Brazell since she graduated from Mount Hebron High School in May, but when she learned of his fatal beating in a melee involving dozens of youths, she decided to create a memorial to honor him on facebook.com, a popular social networking Web site.

"I felt that, if I died, I would want someone else to make a group for me," the 18-year-old student at Howard Community College said yesterday. "I made it so everyone else would remember him."

Robert Brazell was beaten in the head with an aluminum baseball bat in a fight at Mount Hebron's football field early Saturday. He was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead at 3:20 p.m. Sunday after two surgeries.

Kevin Francis Klink, 18, a former wrestling champion from Columbia, was charged with first-degree murder in Brazell's death. He was being held in the Howard County Detention Center after being denied bail Tuesday.

Merson included police contact information on the memorial page so that witnesses could report details about the crime. Police said yesterday they were still trying to determine what caused the melee.

"I was disgusted," Merson said of Brazell's death. "I knew everyone there made bad mistakes that night. But I was even more angry that people left him there and didn't call for help."

Merson said she was friends with Brazell while both attended Mount Hebron High School.

"He was just a very outgoing kid and a good friend," she said. "He has a very nice personality, and he had the ability to make everyone laugh."

Brazell, who dropped out of Mount Hebron High School in December, was looking for a job and planning to enter the Navy, according to Cheryl Lonchas of Ellicott City, whose two sons were close friends of Brazell's.

"Things were pretty dead-end for him here," she said yesterday.

She said she was thankful that her sons, Joe, 20, and Tim, 18, were not with Brazell the night of the melee. The trio had spent the prior weekend solving puzzles and hanging out at Lonchas' Ellicott City home, she said.

Her children and Brazell became friends during the 1990s, when her family moved to Maryland after living in Australia. "He was a fun-loving kid," she recalled. "He was always smiling."

Lonchas said she and her sons visited Brazell at Shock Trauma. Her sons "were sobbing their hearts out," she said. "They were saying his name and trying to get him to wake up."

A woman who identified herself as a relative of Brazell's answered the telephone last night at the family's home number listed in court documents and said, "We have no comment."

There was no answer at the two-story Edgewood home listed as the residence of Brazell's father.

Bryan Curtin, a senior at Mount Hebron, said he had been good friends with Brazell since the two played football together in elementary school. "He loved football," Curtin recalled. "His favorite team was the Steelers."

Klink graduated last year from Oakland Mills High School, where he was a co-captain of the wrestling team.

Klink's lawyer, A. Donald C. Discepolo, said yesterday that "what we are going to do is fully investigate the case and see what happens. Besides that, at this point I have nothing to say." Discepolo said Klink's family asked him to act as their spokesman.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com tyrone.richardson@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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